London 'has lost 15,000 companies', research reveals

More than 15,000 businesses have disappeared from London since 2010, according to research done for the BBC.

Financial analyst Experian carried out a survey of the British economy's performance in the last two years.

It found London was home to by far the most firms in growth sectors, such as finance, professional services, the media and IT.

Yet the number of businesses in the capital fell from 1,043,983 to 1,028,695.

The research was on a greater and more in depth scale than anything done outside the Treasury, its authors claim.

The report found London had highest proportion of exporting businesses.

But on a local level the results made grim reading for the city, with large numbers of small businesses closing.

Bottom of the pile was the London borough of Hounslow, which saw the biggest fall in its business numbers.

Some 3,169 companies were lost through insolvencies, relocations and closures - amounting to 17.5% of the total number of firms there.

Ruth Cadbury, Hounslow Council's deputy leader, said: "We have some major corporations based in the borough, but the majority are small businesses, which form a vibrant part of our community.

"The economic downturn has been challenging for them and there's no doubt local traders are finding it hard to survive.

Image caption The number of firms is even said to have dropped in Westminster

"Therefore a key element in our planning around economic development and regeneration for the borough is to continue to work closely with them to provide support."

But it was not all bad news.

Many boroughs saw rocketing numbers of start-up businesses, particularly in the East End.

In Barking and Dagenham, between 2010 and 2012, some 7,685 new businesses began - increasing the total number by 38.6%.

And in Newham - London's top performer for business start-ups - the number rose by 43.3% over the same period, to 14,672.

Not only is Newham home to the Olympic Park, but it has seen a massive regeneration project around the new Westfield Shopping centre.

One Newham entrepreneur is Faith Johnson.

She founded Caramel Rock, a fashion company which also trains people in dressmaking and now employs five.

Ms Johnson said: "It is 150% a great area to do business in.

"The community is very welcoming - it's like a family."

She continued: "Being the main Olympic borough makes such a difference - it brings so many people here who wouldn't otherwise come.

"With so much investment in the area it's much more profitable.

"I don't think that will come to an end after the Olympics."

A Newham Council spokeswoman said: "An increase in new businesses is good news for Newham and demonstrates the entrepreneurial nature and resilience of our residents.

"Newham is home to some of the largest and most spectacular development sites in Europe.

"More businesses will help contribute to this economic regeneration and will ultimately create more jobs for our residents."

The research found the London boroughs which exported the most were Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster.

Figures disputed

All have a large proportion of foreign business owners, who have a high tendency to export.

Yet the research showed Westminster lost some 11,076 companies, equivalent to 9.8% of its total.

Westminster Council, however, disputed the figures, claiming the number of businesses has risen by more than 1,500.

Councillor Daniel Astaire said: "We are confident the area will continue to buck the national trend and the council will continue to play an important role in promoting and encouraging enterprise."

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